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Xavier Smith: ‘Life-changing’ solar eclipse

Xavier Smith • Updated Aug 23, 2017 at 1:00 PM

There are some things you just have to experience to understand and Monday’s solar eclipse is the top of the list. 

For some people, word about the solar eclipse didn’t catch their ears until about recent months, but I’ve heard about the eclipse since the beginning of the year. I felt I had a good grasp of what would happen Monday just before 1:30 p.m., but I was dead wrong. 

I spent my Monday covering the eclipse in three locations – Five Oaks, Don Fox Park and the Capitol Theatre – with each location adding a piece to my solar eclipse experience. 

At Five Oaks, I talked with a family outside the country club. The family, which included members from Arlington, V.A., made their way to Lebanon to get an extra minute of totality compared to most parts of Nashville and Davidson County. 

The father of the family, Brian Beatty, of Brentwood, said he expected the eclipse to be a “life-changing experience.” He seemed calm and confident in his statement, although I felt he was joking. 

I then made my way to Don Fox Park where there were more cars than parking lots. In an effort to lessen my time at the park and make my way to the Square, I parked behind Lebanon Police officer Wayne Howard. 

I briefly spoke with Howard about the couple from Virginia, when he said there were people from all over at the park.

“Just look at the license plates,” he said. 

As I made my way past the cars parked in the park’s grass areas, I couldn’t help but take Howard’s advice. As I walked I noticed license plates from all parts of the country – Florida, Canada, New Jersey, Alabama, Arizona, Massachusetts and plenty more. 

It was at that moment when I really started to understand the magnitude of this event in terms of our location in Lebanon. These people could have been anywhere else in the world, but they chose our community to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

As I made my way inside the Capitol Theatre, I spoke with owners Pam and Bob Black, who made sure everyone had their protective eyewear. The Capitol Theatre event featured a live NASA stream of the solar eclipse as it continued its path across the country. 

At one point, the voice of one reporter cracked as if she was holding back tears during totality. Now, I understand why. 

As day turned to night, there was a sense of amazement and calm for me, similar to the first time I rode an airplane – the feeling of not being in control. However, this feeling differed because I was reminded of something bigger than all of us – Democrat or Republican, black or white, native or immigrant, young or old, rich or poor. 

None of our differences mattered for those two minutes, and none of our viewing partners cared what those differences were. For that brief moment, we all experienced a life-changing event. 

Xavier Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewswritr.

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